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Widespread looting and shop closures: What to do if you’ve run out of baby formula

COMMERCIALLY manufactured infant formulas are carefully designed to meet specific nutritional needs. Picture: Reuters

COMMERCIALLY manufactured infant formulas are carefully designed to meet specific nutritional needs. Picture: Reuters

Published Jul 14, 2021


Widespread looting and violence throughout KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have left shop shelves empty.

Getting the essentials has become a frustrating nightmare for communities who are too scared to venture outside their homes and neighbourhoods.

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In Durban, people formed snaking queues outside shops that had not bore the brunt of looters – but what has become evident is that bread and milk supplies had run out.

“In addition to basic food supplies, mothers were desperately queuing for baby formula and nappies, with supplies fast running out,” wrote IOL live editor Lee Rondganger while describing the rush for Durban residents to get their hands on the basics.

Volunteer action required

Facebook group RebuildSA Volunteers Group was started by Emelda Masango and accumulated over 1 100 members within a matter of hours.

The group is a collective of volunteers coming together to help businesses affected by the riots.

“The initiative has taken flight ... we have been inundated with people who genuinely care about South Africa and want to help,” said Masango.

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Amongst the growing number of volunteers is a construction company that has offered to help rebuild local businesses destroyed during the looting.

One Facebook user in particular’s post has gained much activity. “I felt a nod (sic) in my throat yesterday when I saw parents struggling to get baby formula,” wrote Fhulu Ramalisa.

“I stay in Potchefstroom and I don't have much, I just wanted to buy one tin of baby formula and get someone to take it that side … let's add baby formula to our shopping list and take them to a remote location, where a volunteer will get them to KZN.”

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Her words hit a chord, prompting another mother to relay her fears, saying: “My son ran out of out of milk yesterday and my mom was going to buy it with her Woolworths account but here in Lenasia Woolworths is closed only PnP is open, he only slept with sugar water.”

The group has thus far been a lifeline for parents who find themselves in similar situations with volunteers giving leads to a number of shops that are still in operation in certain areas.

It’s an anxiety-inducing reality that many parents now find themselves in – what happens when the baby formula and baby food run out? Driving merely kilometres away from home is not an option as reports of sporadic violent outbreaks dominates news and social media.

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What’s the alternative?

If you’re having trouble accessing store-bought baby formula, major medical organisations recommend that you should not serve home-made infant formula to your baby.

Commercially manufactured infant formulas are carefully designed to meet very specific nutritional needs, delivering the same balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats along with vitamins and minerals found in breast milk, parenting website reported.

Even a common ingredient like cow’s milk could put babies at risk for serious or even life-threatening illness, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

So, what can you do if you run out of formula?

If you’re really stuck, below is a quick recipe - but please call your paediatrician immediately to discuss what your options are.

Recipe from Teenie Tummies Children’s Dietician

If you have fresh milk or full cream long life milk

  • 880ml milk
  • 75g sugar
  • 20g oil
  • Water to the 1350ml mark

If using an electric blender:

1. Put about 200 ml of the boiled, cooled water into the blender.

2. Add the required amounts of milk, sugar and oil

3. Add boiled cooled water to the 1350 ml mark and then blend at high speed.

You can view a list of home-made formulas here.

While pre-boiled sugar water is the go-to substitute, local organic retailer Faithful to Nature suggests goat milk.

“Goat milk is often praised as being one of the closest to breastmilk,” Faithful to Nature says on its blog.

“Although goat milk is rich in fat, it must be used with caution in infant feeding as it lacks folic acid and is low in vitamin B12, both of which are essential to the growth and development of the infant.”

For babies already on solids, registered dietitian Zelda Ackerman suggest the following:

Sweet potato butter mash

Picture: Supplied

By cookbook author Justine Drake.

For 6-8 months

1 cup cubed, peeled butternut

1 cup cubed, peeled sweet potato

½ cup weak home-made chicken or veg stock

Ice cube tray (for storage of leftovers)

Place butternut, potato and stock in a small pot, cover and simmer until soft. Store and freeze leftovers in ice cube tray.

Overnight oats

Picture: Supplied

For one year+

50ml cup raw oats

150ml cup plain full cream yoghurt

2 tbs chia seeds

½ tsp Moir’s vanilla essence (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together and leave overnight in fridge. Serve the next morning for breakfast mixed with fruit purée, fruit pieces or with fruit on the side.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article does not replace the advice of your doctor or medical practitioner. Please consult them first before attempting any of the above.